"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: The Armor of God, Conduct in the Campaign & Implementing the Victory of Christ in our Lives

~~ by James J. Fire

A PRELIMINARY WORD -

Having completed the study in the book of Ephesians on the blog FROM the MIND of FIRE, I thought it would be more profitable if I left out chapter 6, verses 10 through 18 and treated this portion of scripture in a more detailed study on our spiritual warfare, here on The TRUTH Under FIRE.

In today’s world, churches in error seem to be polarizing, to a large degree, between these two groups of fellowships: the one group hardly recognizes, or not at all, the existence of Satan, the kingdom of darkness, spiritual warfare and are involved in this world merely as social agencies, self-help institutions, and a platform from which to address entirely earthly, non-spiritual, political and social issues. Rick Warren is a prime example of this.

The other group seems fixated on nothing but spiritual warfare, the kingdom of darkness, and Satan; their battle strategies and objectives seem centered around “reclaiming this world/nation/city for God” which is something the LORD Jesus Christ never did, nor did any of His apostles. The church received no such command to “reclaim” (A review of John ch. 17 where the LORD Jesus Christ prays to the Father is most revealing in this regard). They get into unbiblical practices which in themselves can lead a Christian astray from the Truth just as effectively as the Emerging Church Movement and its proponents (like Rick Warren as mentioned above); included among these would be such teachers as C. Peter Wagner and the late Derek Prince (strangely enough Wagner has been a spiritual mentor of R. Warren’s for a long time).

Those are the extreme positions (of course not all churches can be accounted for in these two groups), and as usual the Truth resides somewhere in-between; precisely that is, in an accurate appraisal of the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. An exhaustive treatment of this subject would be worthy of an entire book (and there are some, though not many that have been already published which prove useful; I have a list of such books at the end of this completed article)! Obviously this study will not be exhaustive, but I do pray that the LORD will enable me to construct at least, a very thorough, exact and balanced treatment of this very necessary and biblical subject!~*~
Never before has the church found herself in such dire straits as today’s world falls into greater and deeper darkness than at any other time in her short history; and the Light of the (generically speaking) church seems to grow ever more dimly! I believe that the only other time in which her needs to conduct a campaign of spiritual warfare was as paramount as today was during the Dark Ages. It was then that those who would stand fast on the Word of God as sola scriptura, that is “scripture alone” as the ultimate authority for the church and the saint were confronted by oppressive religion that sought to persecute and destroy any that would not submit to its own authority (rather than God’s)!

It is therefore with a sense of urgency and importance that I will engage in this study and hope that by God’s empowering grace He will enable me to produce a work here that will yield fruit both beneficial to the church as well as glorifying to and of the LORD!

Please view this song by Steve Camp, and be encouraged regarding this vital necessity in the church of Jesus Christ today:

RUN to the BATTLE

While various sources, commentaries, online resources will be utilized in this study, the primary focus will be (and must be) on the scriptures themselves.

The DIVISIONS of ARTICLES for This Series -

There are seven instruments included in our spiritual arsenal which we are to employ in the warfare in the spiritual realm, and this study will examine each of these. In addition to these, other articles will pre- and proceed them.

These seven instruments are (1) the belt of Truth, (2) the breastplate of Righteousness, (3) ‘shoes’ (technically greaves) shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace, (4) the shield of Faith, (5) the helmet of Salvation, (6) the sword of the Spirit, and (7) prayer which itself has no parallel in martial devices, but its been suggested that a spear or a catapult or some other missile-type of device could be used for prayer in an allegorical sense.

The other articles will include such topics (not necessarily treated individually) as:

Our spiritual strength, the power/might of the LORD, our stand and resistance against the enemy, the supreme struggle against the enemy and his tactics, the hierarchy of the kingdom of darkness, diligent perseverance as watchmen and prayer warriors in and for the church, and possibly other topics as the LORD leads.

TO BEGIN WITH: “FINALLY” –

After the entire length of this Pauline epistle, we read the word at vs. 10 of the sixth chapter of Ephesians, “Finally” which in the Greek refers to “something yet remaining, or unfulfilled which requires addressing”. It may refer to something unrelated to subjects prior, as well as the transition of subject matter (In this case, Paul transitioned from relationships in the marriage, and between parents and children, employers and employees, etc. to the subject at hand, spiritual warfare and the armor of God).
Of particular note is the relationship between the LORD Jesus Christ and His bride, the church (5:24-32) and before anything further can be said about spiritual warfare, we must firstly, have a clear understanding of our relationship with the LORD and secondly, the relational authority we have IN Christ.

Spiritual Rebirth:

To be in Christ, that is, to belong to Him as a disciple, to be a Christian, a follower of the LORD, one must be born again; one must have indwelling them the very Spirit of Christ Jesus (far from a mere New Testament spiritual truth, this was anticipated in Ezekiel 32:26-27) and become a new creation spiritually speaking:


2 Cor 6:16b
. . . as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
John 3:3
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (read through to vs.7)
Rom 8:9
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
2 Cor 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.


It is vital to understand that without this spiritual dynamic of salvation taking place, the soul is eternally lost, remaining severed from the only source of life (be it spiritual or physical) that is, the God of all creation.

No one is able to conduct any form of spiritual warfare until one becomes a member of the Kingdom of God (entrance according to Jesus requires being born again or born spiritually. Paul refers to this as “regeneration” in Titus 3:5).

Upon entrance into the Kingdom of God however, the saint is a marked target by the enemy who is opposed to all things of Christ and His Kingdom.
As children of God and of Light, who once were children of disobedience and darkness, we have transitioned from Satan’s kingdom into God’s!

Col 1:13
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:


Whether we Christians would wish it or not, we are a part of this spiritual warfare. The choice remains with each individual Christian as to what role they will play in this war: as a ‘paladin’* of sorts or a P.O.W.!

* (a knightly high official in the King’s court sworn to valor and strong duty in martial defense of the kingdom and the cause of the King)

The Body of Christ, the Temple of God, Our Source of Life:

As one born of God’s Spirit and indwelt by the same, the individual becomes a temple of God, and as well as this a member of the corporate temple of believers or “the body of Christ” –

1 Cor 6:19
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
Eph 2:19-22
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Eph 4:12
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

1Cor 12:27
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

Eph 5:23
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Now, read this carefully: Without a head, you’re dead!
Profound, I know, but in a spiritual sense its important to understand that our life, our inspiration, our instruction, direction; our wisdom, and knowledge and of course the mercy and grace, peace and love we receive, we receive from the LORD Jesus Christ Himself (Acts 2:36), the True Vine (John 15:1), the Head of the church, or the body (‘the church’ and ‘the body’ are synonyms; see – Eph. 5:23; and Col. 1:18, 24). Jesus Christ is literally the well spring, the bread, water, milk and meat, the very spiritual sustenance for the church (see John 6:35, 53-63; 7:37; Heb. 5:13; 1 Ptr. 2:2; 1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12 – you will note that in these preceding verses there is an equating between the Word Incarnate, and the Word Inspired and this is intentional as God Himself is the Inspirer of the written Word).

In spiritual warfare this communion and life between Christ and the Christian is paramount, and must be sustained between LORD and servant if any sort of spiritual enterprise is to meet with success; and for victory in this martial engagement hoped for and attained practically through Christ Jesus. Essentially, we must abide in His Word, we must abide in the true Vine!

Concerning the extreme value and necessity of God’s Holy Word, Charles Spurgeon had much to say:

“If the revelation of God were not enough for our faith, what could we add to it? Who can answer this question? What would any man propose to add to the sacred Word? A moment's thought would lead us to scout with derision the most attractive words of men, if it were proposed to add them to the Word of God. The fabric would not be of a piece.
"Would you add rags to a royal vestment? Would you pile the filth of the streets in a king's treasury? Would you join the pebbles of the sea-shore to the diamonds of Golconda? Anything more than the Word of God sets before us, for us to believe and to preach as the life of men, seems utterly absurd to us; yet we confront a generation of men who are always wanting to discover a new motive power, and a new gospel for their churches.
"The coverlet of their bed does not seem to be long enough, and they would fain borrow a yard or two of linsey-woolsey from the Unitarian, the Agnostic, or even the Atheist. Well; if there be any spiritual force or heavenward power to be found beyond that reported of in this Book, I think we can do without it: indeed, it must be such a sham that we are better without it.
"The Scriptures in their own sphere are like God in the universe—All-sufficient. In them is revealed all the light and power the mind of man can need in spiritual things. We hear of other motive power beyond that which lies in the Scriptures, but we believe such a force to be a pretentious nothing.”

(Taken from: The SPURGEON ARCHIVE - The Greatest Fight in the World

Adopted Children, Overcomers and Our Inherited Authority/Power from the Holy Spirit:

Tracing the threads of our spiritual position to the beginning of the epistle to the Ephesians we read in vs. 5 of chapter One:

Eph 1:5
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Adoption here is from the Greek word: huiothesia, and it refers not so much to our spiritual regeneration in the inception into the family of God, but our placement in the position and authority as children (thus heirs) of God, deriving from Him said power and authority.

The LORD Jesus bequeathed spiritual authority kindred to this upon (epi) His disciples even before they were born again/indwelt by the Holy Spirit (which didn’t occur until John 20:22), during His earthly ministry (see - Matt. 28: 18-20; Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1-12, 16-24). Yet until that time, the Spirit of God (was with them but) had not yet indwelt them (see John 7:39). We see this Divine interaction continuing even after our LORD’s ascension into heaven (see Mark 16:19-20).

The LORD Jesus in referring to the Holy Spirit said that He is with us (prior to salvation) and shall be in us (upon the moment of salvation) in John 14:17. Yet there is a third interaction with the Holy Spirit as described in Acts 1:8, that is, “power from on high” or “epi”. This “upon” power was present with the disciples (temporarily, as it was with the prophets of the Old Testament) when so authorized by the LORD Who commissioned them with evangelism, healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, etc.

Here is a quote from an article published at the following web site:
calvarychapellouisa.org/Godspromiseofpower/index.htm

GOD's PROMISE of POWER

“WITH, IN, AND UPON
There are three key Greek prepositions, which help us to better understand this work of the Spirit. The words with, in, and upon are para, en and epi in Greek. He is with (para) us even before we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, for it is the Holy Spirit who draws us to Jesus, and convinces us of our need for a Savior. The very moment we say "yes" to Him and invite Him in (en) He gives us new birth or regeneration. We are now His child, part of the family of God. We have the Holy Spirit residing in (en) us.

“According to Ephesians 1:13, we are now sealed with the Holy Spirit. Yet, there is a third work of the Spirit given to us, which imparts power upon (epi) us enabling us to be dynamic witnesses. In Acts 1:8 we find this third preposition, the word upon, which is epi in the Greek. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." This word indicates that the Holy Spirit desires to be continually overflowing us.

“In Luke 3:21-22, Jesus came to John at the Jordan River to be baptized in water. As He came up from the water, the Holy Spirit descended upon (epi) Him and a voice from heaven said, "You are My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." In Luke chapter 4, we find Jesus being filled, or overflowed with the Spirit [In fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-2a]. Returning from the Jordan River, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted by Satan and then having overcome every temptation, He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.

“After He was baptized in the Jordan River and the Spirit descended upon Him, we see Him beginning the ministry His Father had sent Him to do. In Luke 4:18, Jesus spoke of His anointing by the Father "to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captive, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." This upon (epi) experience empowers the believer for service. It is an out-flowing of the Spirit, a flowing forth from my life of the dunamis. It is the power of the Spirit working through my life and touching the lives of those around me…”

The spiritual life we have inherited is one of enormous spiritual power, and as children of God in this lofty position, this power is tempered by our knowledge of the will of God (we know we have the petitions we ask for if they are indeed in accordance with the will of God, 1 John 5:14-15). The birthright of the believer in this authority does not make us little gods, proclaiming edicts and setting forth our will by Divine power, as some would have us believe (such as in the Word-Faith Movement) but to conduct authoritative action in compliance with, not in contradiction to God’s own will, which we recognize in the Holy Bible.

We have inherited His Spirit, and been given the spirit of understanding, true enlightenment, riches of the glory of God and this exceeding power that raised Christ Jesus up from the dead and placed our LORD at the right hand of the Father, above all spiritual powers in the entire heavenly and angelic (both good and evil) realms. All things are placed under the feet of the LORD Jesus Christ Who is the Head of the church which is His body (Eph. 1:13-22).

Note: We are His body, and all things are placed under His feet (His feet likewise being ‘of the body’) and so all these things are, positionally speaking, beneath us. This is important to understand and believe if spiritual warfare is to be successful. As we understand and affirm that this is so, we are no longer threatened by any attack of the enemy, nor intimidated by his assaults!!

We the church, “quickened” or brought to life who were once spiritually dead because of sins and trespasses, once under the domination of the Prince of the power of the air and considered with the rest of humanity as “children of disobedience” are now raised up by God’s mercy and grace (Eph. 2:1-5).

We are as the church positionally seated, where now? What does it say in vs. 6?

Eph 2:6
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

This sounds like a rather bizarre notion when you think about it; that each of us who are in Christ Jesus, while we live and walk among the people of this world, existing here physically, we also exist (positionally) in a very real spiritual sense, “seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. We have no right nor place to that seat in heaven but by the grace and empowering authority of God that brought us into the Kingdom in the first place as His children (See John 1:12). I believe that we share in the authority of Christ Jesus and in His Name as His bride (Rev. 21:9, 22:17), as ambassadors who speak in the Name and authority of the LORD (2 Cor. 5:20) and as overcomers who will one day sit with Christ on His own Throne, rather than the Father’s Throne where He sits now (see this list in scripture referring to overcomers):

Rev 3:21
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

1 John 4:4; 5:4-5; Rev. 2: 7, 11, 17, 26; 3: 5, 12, (21),
and 21:7.

It would seem that the portrayal of the overcomer is the lot of the regenerated believer, for we are born of God by faith, and shall partake of the Tree of Life, receive the hidden manna and a new name engraved in a white stone (is there any true believer that won’t?), nor shall we suffer harm from the second death, we shall be clothed upon in His righteousness and will not have our names blotted out of the Book of Life and shall witness our LORD confessing us before the Father and His angels (see also Luke 12:8) and shall inherit all things.

Thus ends this segment in this ongoing series on spiritual warfare; this article will continue with a second segment soon to come! In the meanwhile stand fast in the LORD Jesus Christ and in the power of HIS Might!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I very much enjoyed part 1 of your series and I am moving onto reading part 2. Thanks so much for writing this because it explained so much to me that I did not understand and many of these things are not taught in the churches, or Bible study classes.
Kim

James J. Fire said...

God bless you Kim! I am grateful to the LORD that He has enabled me to be of use in teaching the saints re: this very needful subject. More is coming soon, and there will be posts on the practical aspects of all this teaching as well. Stay STRONG in the LORD and in the power of HIS MIGHT!

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